college, my most challenging English professor was also the one
that I enjoyed the most. Unlike other profs who graded on a curve,
giving me "A"s just because my essays outshone those of the many
other non-English-majors in the class, this prof marked my first
essay a "B".
"I know this is not your best work,"
How he knew I could do better, I'm
not sure, but that class and the two other of his classes I subsequently
signed up for ignited my passion not just for great writing but
for great thinking as well. The literature we read inspired deep
philosophical discussions that I enjoyed especially because he and
I shared the same upside-down and backwards way of (abnormal) thinking.
My professor seemed to notice this
similarity. One day as I was leaving class after a particularly
spirited debate, he handed out one of my all-time favorite compliments:
"You know, Amy, if I would have had a little sister, I hope she'd
have been a lot like you."
Though he and I thought alike in many
ways, there was one point on which we couldn't have thought or felt
more differently. That difference of opinion which eventually grew
to a point of contention was my faith (and his lack thereof) in
From our verbal face-offs on the subject,
I sensed that his disbelief went beyond a mere lack of faith to
an outright bitterness or antagonism against the very idea of God.
When I tried to dig down to the root of this bitterness, the only
answer I could find was that my professor was enraged by the ego
of a Being who was perfect, and repeatedly said so.
At the time, I think I responded that
if someone is perfect, they have the right to say so because it
is true. I considered the situation similar to a spiritual campaign
for the hearts of men. Just as you can't expect a politician to
campaign without touting his accomplishments, background and record,
I thought, you can't tie God's hands when it comes to stating the
facts about why we should love and choose him as our God.
But, to tell you the truth, my professor's
point still rankled with me a little. Why did God have to seemingly
"brag" so much on Himself? Didn't His works adequately express His
greatness? Why make a point of stating the obvious?
In particular, I noticed a passage
in Exodus where Moses asks to see God's glory. God stuffs Moses
in the mountain, shielding him from the deadly brightness of God's
face. As He passes in front of the crevice, God proclaims a two-verse
description of Himself (Exodus 34:6-7). "The LORD, the LORD God,
merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness
and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and
transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty;
visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon
the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation."
I didn't debate that God's statement
was true, but I just didn't understand the need for it. To be completely
honest, in my deepest of hearts, I agreed with my professor that
it seemed a bit egotistical.
Recently, God showed me that I wasn't
looking at His statement through the right lens. This week, I finally
realized that God wasn't making His statement as a political speech,
or for any personal gain of His own at all. His declaration of strength
was solely for the benefit of the trembling, brand-new national
leader that was hiding in a hole in a rock.
A full knowledge of God's greatness
and Being was just what Moses needed to strengthen him for the leadership
tasks ahead. Moses already knew he didn't have what it took to lead
a nation. He needed to know that God did. Later on, Moses will say
to God, "I'll go ahead with this mission on the sole condition that
You go with us. If You're not going, I'm not, either."
Moses had no confidence in himself
or his own abilities. But God told him, "Moses, that's ok. Let me
tell you a little about the God you're serving. Whatever comes up,
you'll see that I've already got it covered."
That's not an example of crowing;
it's an example of comforting.
Just as Moses craved the reassurance
that God was strong enough to anticipate his problems and have them
all under control before they even occurred, we thirst for the power
of God in our lives today. When we get overconfident, we need to
realize that God's knowledge, power and integrity dwarfs all human
strength. And when we get overwhelmed, we need to hide with Moses
in the rocky crevice and feel the comfort of God's proclamation
wash over us, giving us courage and hope for what lies ahead.
No matter what your situation, know
that God is powerful enough to take care of it for you. Today, draw
courage from His comfortingly unexaggerated strength.